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Impeachment trial: What did Trump’s defence team argue?

In just two hours, lawyers for United States President Donald Trump told senators on Saturday that Democrats’ efforts to remove the president from office would set a “very, very dangerous” precedent in an election year. It was the first day of their opening arguments in the Senate impeachment trial of Trump. More:  Trump impeachment: US…

Impeachment trial: What did Trump’s defence team argue?

In just two hours, lawyers for United States President Donald Trump told senators on Saturday that Democrats’ efforts to remove the president from office would set a “very, very dangerous” precedent in an election year.
It was the first day of their opening arguments in the Senate impeachment trial of Trump.
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White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, the head of the defence team, told senators they would be denying voters their right to give their opinion on Trump at the November 3 presidential election if they found him guilty and remove him now.
Democrats argued earlier this week that Trump should be removed for encouraging Ukraine to interfere in the election by pressuring its leader to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading 2020 Democratic presidential contender.
The defence tried to turn that argument of election interference against the Democrats by warning against removing a president less than 10 months before the American people will vote on whether to give him a second term.
“For all their talk about election interference … they’re here to perpetrate the most massive interference in an election in American history, and we can’t allow that to happen. It would violate our Constitution. It would violate our history. It would violate our obligations to the future,” Cipollone said.
The Democratic-led House of Representatives impeached Trump last month on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, setting the stage for the trial in the Republican-led Senate.
Trump is expected to be acquitted in the Senate, where a two-thirds vote is required to convict and remove a president from office. No Republican senator has voiced any support for his removal.
Trump denies any wrongdoing.
‘Very consequential’
The main focus of the Democrats’ case is a phone call last July in which Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to investigate Biden on unsubstantiated corruption allegations.
Democrats contend that Trump was trying to find dirt on Biden and his son, Hunter, who had served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company, to help the president win a second term.
Democratic Representative Adam Schiff, the head of the prosecution, told senators this week that the campaign of pressure on Ukraine was a “corrupt scheme” in which Trump also temporarily froze nearly $400m in military aid to Ukraine.

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